Neuronal correlates of amblyopia in the visual cortex of macaque monkeys with experimental strabismus and anisometropia

Lynne Kiorpes, Daniel C. Kiper, Lawrence P. O'Keefe, James R. Cavanaugh, J. Anthony Movshon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Amblyopia is a developmental disorder of pattern vision. After surgical creation of esotropic strabismus in the first weeks of life or after wearing - 10 diopter contact lenses in one eye to simulate anisometropia during the first months of life, macaques often develop amblyopia. We studied the response properties of visual cortex neurons in six amblyopic macaques; three monkeys were anisometropic, and three were strabismic. In all monkeys, cortical binocularity was reduced. In anisometropes, the amblyopic eye influenced a relatively small proportion of cortical neurons; in strabismics, the influence of the two eyes was more nearly equal. The severity of amblyopia was related to the relative strength of the input of the amblyopic eye to the cortex only for the more seriously affected amblyopes. Measurements of the spatial frequency tuning and contrast sensitivity of cortical neurons showed few differences between the eyes for the three less severe amblyopes (two strabismic and one anisometropic). In the three more severely affected animals (one strabismic and two anisometropic), the optimal spatial frequency and spatial resolution of cortical neurons driven by the amblyopic eye were substantially and significantly lower than for neurons driven by the nonamblyopic eye. There were no reliable differences in neuronal contrast sensitivity between the eyes. A sample of neurons recorded from cortex representing the peripheral visual field showed no interocular differences, suggesting that the effects of amblyopia were more pronounced in portions of the cortex subserving foveal vision. Qualitatively, abnormalities in both the eye dominance and spatial properties of visual cortex neurons were related on a case-by-case basis to the depth of amblyopia. Quantitative analysis suggests, however, that these abnormalities alone do not explain the full range of visual deficits in amblyopia. Studies of extrastriate cortical areas may uncover further abnormalities that explain these deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6411-6424
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume18
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 1998

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Keywords

  • Amblyopia
  • Anisometropia
  • Macaque monkeys
  • Strabismus
  • Visual cortex
  • Visual development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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